Category Archives: South Asia

A Week in God’s Own Country–Stop 1: Kerala Farm Organic Spices

When we told our friends in Chennai we wanted to do some sightseeing, they all said, “Go West–to Kerala!”

“Never heard of it,” we said.

“It’s beautiful,” they replied.

While we were mulling over this possibility, we met a fellow hotel guest who happened to be from Kerala. I told Sandhya we were thinking of visiting Kerala, and she turned travel agent on the spot.

“You must go. It’s like nothing else you’ll see in India. First you should go to Munnar, spend two nights, then to Thekkady, take a boat ride and stay a night in the tiger preserve, then Marari Kollam, and then a night on a houseboat.” Continue reading

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A Week in God’s Own Country, Stop 2: Munnar

The driver arranged by my new Indian friend living in Moscow met us promptly at the train station in Cochin. We made directly for the mountains, after stopping for breakfast at the Royale County Hotel on the KRL Road in Tripunithura. The servers waited most attentively, and the South Indian-style buffet was quite satisfying; the coffee was the best we’d had yet.

Then on to Munnar, stopping first at the Kerela Farm described in A Week in God’s Own Country, Stop 1. I had read in a guide book that the primary reason to visit Munnar is the tea fields. Without my friend’s urging, I might have left it off the itinerary; I’m so glad I didn’t.

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Sunny Sistems, The Art Company

A few weeks ago Brianna and I were wandering about in the vicinity of Gandhi Nagar in Adyar (Chennai) in search of a bookstore and/or ice cream, when we passed a sign for Sunny Sistems, The Gallery. I started to pass by the residential-type building in pursuit of our mission. But, curious, and thinking it could be a good place to ask directions, we turned back.

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Services in Chennai: Doctor & Barber (and a little massage)

At one time, in both North America and Asia, the same person would have performed both these services. However, the professionals we visited last week were definitely specialists well trained in their respective fields.

Brianna had been suffering from a worsening earache for several days, probably induced by the combination of a cold and seven hours (yes, seven) in the pool on Tuesday. (There was a good reason for that, but I won’t go into it here). Not to mention a couple of hours swimming nearly every day previous to that.

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Books in Chennai, Part I: Anna Centenary Library and Starmark

During our first week in Chennai we discovered the Renga Lending Library here in our own neighborhood (Click here to read that post: “Saved by the Neighborhood Library“). The following week we trekked a little farther afield to three other book sites: The Anna Centenary Library, built in 2010; The Phoenix Mall Starmark, one of the newest bookstores in Chennai; and Higginbotham’s, India’s oldest bookseller.

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The Bare Necessities in India

The day after we arrived in India, a hotel clerk directed us to the “In & Out” convenience store at the gas station near our hotel. “They have everything,”  he promised. Indeed, besides the convenience store, the rather deluxe complex includes a juice bar, a sweet shop, an ATM, and a florist shop.

Later it occurred to me that what you’re likely to find in a convenience store is a mix of the frivolous–cheap candy and fast food–and the essential—items you would pay double for if you left them behind on a trip. A survey revealed some interesting similarities and contrasts with what we would expect to find in the U.S. Continue reading